AfDB kicks off campaign to end violence against women and girls

25 Nov 2015, 12:00 am
Financial Nigeria


One in three women still experiences physical or sexual violence, usually from an intimate partner.   

United Nations Under-Secretary-General and the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

The African Development Bank Group is kicking off a campaign today to prevent and end violence against women and girls. The campaign, to be led by the Office of the Special Envoy on Gender, will take place from November 25 to December 10, 2015 – and will feature a variety of events and initiatives at the AfDB headquarters in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, as well as regional and field offices of the bank across the continent.  

The campaign will mark AfDB’s solidarity with the United Nations “Orange the World” initiative the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, launched in 2008. The UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign is a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls around the world.

In 1993, the UN made the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women. Unfortunately, more than 20 years later, one in three women still experiences physical or sexual violence, usually from an intimate partner.    

Violence against women and girls is in three main forms, namely, physical, sexual and psychological. Statistics by the United Nations shows that 2.6 billion women and girls live in countries where marital rape is not criminalised. Domestic abuse happens everywhere, regardless of race, religion or educational background.  

Apart from rape, several women experience unwanted sexual advances or demand for sex in return for favours. 4.5 million people are victims of human trafficking and forced sexual exploitation. 98 percent of them are women and girls. 133 women and girls living today have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM). There are widespread cases of child molestation.

A new form of violence against women and girls is cyber violence. A report by the UN Broadband Commission that was released in September revealed that almost three quarters of women online have been exposed to some form of cyber violence.

The paper noted that cyber VAWG (abbreviation for violence against women and girls) exists in many forms, including online harassment, public shaming, the desire to inflict physical harm, sexual assaults, murders and induced suicides.

Also, women and girls in conflict areas are more likely to be violated. In an interview with UN News Centre, Zainab Hawa Bangura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, said one of the most important and difficult trends in VAWG is that sexual violence is being used as a “tactic of terror.”

Ms. Bangura said, “This is because of the rise of extremists and terrorist groups. They move across countries, and are transnational and trans-regional in nature. This is very challenging for us to address. We’ve seen it in Mali. We’ve seen it in Nigeria with Boko Haram. We’ve seen it Somalia with Al-Shabaab and now in Yemen, Syria, and of course in Iraq.”

The UN Orange the World initiative sets out five key outcomes to be achieved by 2015. The first is the adoption and enforcement of national laws to address and punish all forms of VAWG. The second is for all countries to adopt and implementation national plans of action that emphasize prevention and are adequately resourced.

The third outcome is for the establishment of data collection and analysis systems on the prevalence of various forms of VAWG. The establishment of campaigns and the engagement of a diverse range of civil society actors in preventing violence and in supporting women and girls who have been abused, is the fourth outcome.

The UN also hopes for systematic efforts to address sexual violence in conflict situations and to protect women and girls from rape as a “tactic of war,” as its fifth target. The Sustainable Development Goals, which replaced the Millennium Development Goals, includes specific targets and indicators on ending VAWG.

The theme of the AfDB campaign is “Women at the Forefront of Development: The Fight against Violence.” In a statement released today, the AfDB acknowledged the inherently complex environment of violence against girls and women. It said violence against women is a global pandemic that touches everyone, without distinction of race, sex, class or religion.

AfDB Special Envoy on Gender, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, said the bank places emphasis on a collective, principled and strategic exploration of solutions aimed at addressing the real problems. The solutions, according to the Special Envoy, include ensuring that the operations of the AfDB should have the achievement of meaningful outcomes in the fight against gender-based violence as an objective.


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